Aung San Suu Kyi faces global outcry over Rohingya crisis

Protests over the Myanmar leader’s handling of the turmoil have erupted around the world, amid growing fears that the situation could fuel radicalisation in the region

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September 5, 2017
Aung San Suu Kyi faces global outcry over Rohingya crisis
Indonesian Muslim activists hold a protest banner showing Myanmar state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar nationalist Buddhist monk Wirathu during a protest against Myanmar's alleged persecution of its Muslim Rohingya minority at a main roundabout in Jakarta, Indonesia, 03 September 2017. Photo: EPA-EFE/Adi Weda

Muslims in Australia, Chechnya and Indonesia took to the streets on Monday to protest the Myanmar military’s latest crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya population in northwestern Rakhine State.

“The world remains silent in the face of the massacre of Rohingya Muslims,” Farida, an Indonesian who organised the protest outside Australia’s Parliament in Canberra, told reporters, capturing the anger felt by many towards the international community’s limited response to what rights groups have described as ongoing crimes against humanity.

Tens of thousands joined state-sanctioned protests in Chechnya, rallying around their leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who described the violence in Rakhine State as a “genocide” against the Rohingya, according to the New York Times.

In Jakarta, dozens of protesters burned photographs of Myanmar state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi outside the Myanmar embassy, where a small fire broke out after a molotov cocktail was thrown through a window. The extremist Islamic ­Defenders Front (FPI) also called on Indonesian Muslims to wage a jihad in Myanmar, stoking fears that the troubled region could drive radicalised Muslims to join the Islamic State.

The protests follow statements made by the Pakistan Foreign Ministry and Indonesian President Joko Widodo condemning the violence and calling for investigations into recent events.

At Widodo’s behest, Indonesia’s foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, met with Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon on Monday to discuss the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Myanmar’s Rohingya population, who activists say have received no assistance from the Suu Kyi’s administration.

In April, Suu Kyi told the BBC that “ethnic cleansing is too strong an expression to use for what is happening” in Rakhine State. More recently, she has described the military’s attacks on the Rohingya as essential and legitimate counter-terrorism efforts, and even accused international NGOs of abetting terrorism through their efforts to help the Rohingya.

However, a number of reports, supported by pictures and videos posted online, suggest the military has used the ‘war on terror’ discourse as a carte blanche to indiscriminately attack innocent civilians and burn down entire villages, retroactively claiming such deaths are unavoidable casualties of war.

In addition to widespread condemnation from international media outlets and political institutions, Suu Kyi has also been criticised by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani Muslim and the youngest ever recipient of the award.

“Over the last several years, I have repeatedly condemned this tragic and shameful treatment,” Yousafzai said in a tweet on Monday. “I am still waiting for my fellow Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do the same. The world is waiting and the Rohingya Muslims are waiting.”

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